The Associated Press reports:
Employers already are squeezed by tight credit, rising health care costs, wary consumers and a higher minimum wage. Now, the surging jobless rate is imposing another cost. It’s forcing higher state taxes on companies to pay for unemployment insurance claims.
Some employers say the extra costs make them less likely to hire. That could be a worrisome sign for the economic recovery, because small businesses create about 60 percent of new jobs.
Sam Schlosser, owner of Plymouth Foundry Inc. in Plymouth, Ind., said his unemployment tax bill could double next year. Revenue at the family-owned company, which makes iron castings for machine parts, has fallen about 50 percent, he said. In case of higher taxes, his company may have to consider layoffs, he said.
President Obama’s failed stimulus only compounds this problem. The New York Times Jay Goltz explains:
A lot of people — including a lot of business owners — don’t understand how this works. Because the government cuts the unemployment check, it is widely assumed that it’s the government that pays the unemployment benefits. In reality, those benefits are funded by employer taxes. And here’s the killer: The more unemployment benefits your former employees collect, the higher your taxes go.
It works like insurance. If the government pays a claim, your rates go up. In fact, if your former employee collects $10,000 in unemployment payments, you can expect to pay close to twice that in increased premiums. At least that’s how it works in my state, Illinois.
Thus, this becomes another cost of doing business that smart owners attempt to control. How do you control it? By making as few hires as possible, by making sure that those hires you do make are as strong as possible, and by combining documented rules with good management.
And now, thanks to the stimulus package, unemployment insurance has been extended as much as an additional 20 weeks. If you’ve had to lay off 10 people, this could easily result in additional taxes of $10,000, $50,000, or even $100,000. It’s a time bomb that won’t go off until after employers get their contribution-rate increase in November, but it will go off.
And therein lies the final irony: Even after the economy improves, I’m going to think long and hard before I hire anyone. Thanks to the stimulus package — the stimulus package — the costs, paperwork, and legal exposure associated with hiring employees is on the rise.